Cult Survivors Appeal to Their Old Friends: Return to Judaism

Harav Gechtman learns a passage of Talmud involving Abaye and Rava at their graves.

Twenty two Jews who were rescued recently from Christian missionaries participated last week in a special tour organized by Yad L’Achim.

The event was part of Yad L’Achim “Sheves Achim” program that was launched last year. The program includes special evenings that are held once a month to allow the survivors to bond and offer one another support. Not only do they hear about others whose stories are similar to theirs, but they are given special lectures and the chance to learn one-on-one with yeshivah students.

The survivors arrived from all across the country to Yad L’Achim’s head offices in Bnei Brak, where they boarded a chartered minibus to the North. The program began at the Old City of Tzefas, with a tour led by Harav Yoav-Zeev Robinson, one of Yad L’Achim senior lecturers. The tour included prayer at the tziyun of the Ari Hakadosh, visits to ancient shuls and immersion in the mikveh of the Ari.

A particularly poignant moment came when the survivors reached the graves of the Talmudic Sages Abaye and Rava, and Harav Chanoch Gechtman, head of the cult division at Yad L’Achim, taught them a passage in the Gemara in which Abaye and Rava are mentioned. He spoke to them about the accessibility of the light of Torah.

After lunch at the Ascent Institute, the survivors participated in a musical workshop with Harav Amram Moyal, who shared with them the uniqueness of the Jewish niggun.

The long day wound down with a program in the Biriya forest that included supper, accompanied by the soulful music of Harav Nissim ben Chaim, which strengthened the participants’ faith in Hashem.

Harav Gechtman related that the survivors were so moved by the tour and so uplifted spiritually, that on their way back to the center of the country some called their friends who were still in the cults and tried to convince them to return to Judaism.
“You have to get to know Judaism from up close,” said one survivor, “to see what a precious treasure the cult is hiding from you.”

Harav Robinson leads a tour of cult survivors in the Old City of Tzefas.